RE: Hexadecimal digits?

From: Simon Butcher (
Date: Sun Nov 09 2003 - 16:28:56 EST

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "Re: Tamil 0BB3 and 0BD7"

    Hi Philippe,

    > > However personally, when dealing with a octet, or an
    > arbitrary number
    > > of octets, I believe the byte-pictures would be much easier
    > to deal with
    > > (especially when dealing with a lot of raw data).
    > Except that it would require 256 new codepoints, instead of
    > just 6 for the
    > proposed HEX DIGIT characters.
    > What is complicate, when dealing with lot of raw data, to
    > convert it to
    > nibbles then coded with numeric code points, rather than converting
    > bytes to code points? You just add a shift and mask operation
    > to output
    > 2 code points rather than just adding each byte as an offset of a base
    > code point. Still, you need to convert your raw data to suitable code
    > points to display the HEX BYTE characters.

    I never said there was anything complicated about it, I said I personally prefer the hex byte characters - They're a much more compact and elegant solution to representing octets.

    When dealing with protocol specifications, there's often a need for characters like these, too, since hex byte pictures are unambiguous. I have a DEC dumb terminal around here somewhere which also uses them when debugging control characters.

    I suppose you could argue it's purely a formatting issue, though.

    > What you propose is NOT a complementary set of digits for base 16,
    > but a complete new set of numbers in base 256, so that a glyph
    > like [00] will be displayed instead of just 0 (this is a
    > disunification
    > of all the existing ASCII digits, as if it was a new script
    > using its own
    > numbering system)...

    Well I didn't propose it, but I do like it! :)

    > Other historic numbering systems are used today and better suited
    > for representation, notably the compound base (12, 5), when
    > people where counting the first digit in one hand with the
    > first finger
    > pointing on the 3 phallanges of the 4 other fingers, and the other
    > hand was used to count the second order digit by raising each of
    > its 5 fingers.

    I do not see how historic numbering systems are appropriate for representing octets, which was the point of the proposal. I strongly doubt the Babylonians or the Mayans considered computer engineers would settle on 8-bits to a byte with base-60 or base-20 respectively.

    I'm not sure what you meant by most of your message, though. I'm talking about representation, in a similar vein as the control pictures section (U+2400-243F), and not a numeric system.

     - Simon

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